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2nd Test, Lord's, June 28 - July 02, 2023, The Ashes
416 & 279
(T:371) 325 & 327

Australia won by 43 runs

Player Of The Match
110 & 34

Smith, Head and Warner give Australia opening-day honours

Root's double-wicket burst towards close plus Tongue's two wickets meant all was not grim for England

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Steven Smith and Travis Head shared another century stand, England vs Australia, 2nd Ashes Test, Lord's, 1st day, June 28, 2023

Steven Smith and Travis Head added 118 off 122 balls  •  ECB/Getty Images

Australia 339 for 5 (Smith 85*, Head 77, Warner 66, Root 2-19, Tongue 2-88) vs England
Steven Smith and Travis Head gave the opening-day honours to Australia at Lord's, but the scorecard was not quite as bleak for England as appeared likely shortly before the close until Joe Root burgled a double-wicket over after what had been a largely uninspired performance from the home side.
It may only have been day six of the series, but as Smith and Head were combining to add 118 in a bit over 20 overs for the fourth wicket, it felt as though Australia were taking a significant step towards having a stranglehold in the Ashes. A close-of-play total of 339 for 5 may yet end up proving decisive but England were clinging on.
Head had played in what has become his trademark style as he flayed 77 from 73 balls, catching up with Smith who had a 43-run head start when he joined him at the crease. But having deposited Root down the ground he could not resist trying again and this time he was beaten convincingly, although Nathan Lyon will have noted the turn on offer.
Two balls later Cameron Green played a very out-of-character hoick, miscuing Root to mid-off, and Australia's good work was in danger of unravelling. However, Smith remained immovable and was closing in on Test century No. 32 on the ground where he was felled and concussed by Jofra Archer four years ago. As had been expected, there was not going to be two Tests in a row where he and Marnus Labuschagne did not contribute.
David Warner, riding a little bit of luck along the way, had helped lay the early foundation under slate-grey skies which looked tailor-made for bowling although the surface itself was much less green than the days leading into the game. When he departed shortly after lunch, during a terrific over from the recalled Josh Tongue, England threatened to hit back but first Smith and Labuschagne, then Smith and Head shut them out before Root's late incisions.
On an overcast morning where light drizzle and a pitch invasion by Just Stop Oil protesters, which required orange powder to be removed from the square, caused a couple of delays Ben Stokes was happy to insert Australia but England failed to take advantage of conditions. As at Edgbaston, catching - this time from the slip cordon - was one of the key reasons.
Usman Khawaja, on 1, survived a low edge to first slip which just reached Root. Then a much more clear-cut chance escaped Ollie Pope at fourth from Warner off Stuart Broad when he had 20. Dismissal No. 16 went begging. Pope later spent much of the day off the field nursing a shoulder injury after diving to intercept a ball.
Although Australia did not initially race away with the scoring - they were 39 for 0 after 17 overs - they had weathered the early window, albeit with a little bit of good fortune going their way. Warner had not been afraid to try the unconventional, twice stepping outside off stump to effectively sweep Broad, the first of which brought smiles between the batter and bowler.
Warner, who passed his tally from the 2019 Ashes in three innings this time, scored more freely than Khawaja and it appeared the pair would take Australia to lunch without loss. However, Tongue, whose first three overs had cost 24 - including a hooked six by Warner to reach fifty - brought one back down the slope and Khawaja judged poorly as he left it alone.
After the interval, Tongue got the better of Warner during an over where he produced an inside edge that narrowly missed the stumps then sliced him in half with a delivery that went for four byes before bowling one a touch fuller to obliterate the middle and leg stumps. Warner, though, has done enough to ensure he gets the rest of the Ashes, and probably the Sydney farewell he has mapped out.
Labuschagne, coming off 0 for 13 at Edgbaston, still did not appear quite at his best but did not have to front up to Broad early - he had faced 29 balls by the time Broad was brought on. Broad's comeback over involved drama with Smith who began by taking consecutive boundaries and was then given caught behind but the DRS showed daylight between bat and ball.
Labuschagne started to find his groove with three boundaries in an over off Broad and another brace off Stokes as the scoreboard rattled along. Then he, too, made use of the DRS when given lbw shouldering arms to Broad against one which nipped down the slope but was shown to be going over off stump. Two overs later, England used a review against Labuschagne, but the ball had been trapped off the inside edge.
The partnership had just passed 100 shortly after tea when Ollie Robinson found Labuschagne's outside edge to give England an opening. But they bowled poorly to Head and he was away to a flying start by dispatched two short, wide deliveries from Robinson through the off side.
In the blink of an eye Head was at a run-a-ball and though the ball occasionally flew past his outside edge there was plenty crunched out of the middle - some of his timing through the leg side was exquisite. Smith, as he was during the World Test Championship final against India, was happy to ride in Head's slip stream as his fifty came in 102 balls during which he became the second-fastest to 9000 Test runs.
Tongue, the quickest of England's attack, was briefly used for a short-pitched plan against Head with the field spread far and wide but he threaded the gap on the leg side to reach fifty from 48 balls. A repeat of the Gabba, where he scored a century in the final session of the day, was on the cards before the spirit of adventure brought his downfall. Smith and Alex Carey negotiated the closing stages, including two overs against the second new ball, but while Australia are not out of sight England are already playing catch up.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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